Prince William joined dads and their children at a casual breakfast as he urges families to talk more openly about the mental health difficulties they may be facing

By Simon Perry
Updated June 19, 2016 09:55 AM
Heads Together

Royal dad Prince William says that treating the mental wellbeing of his children Prince George and Princess Charlotte is as important a priority as their physical health.

In a Father’s Day message for the Heads Together campaign that he shares with wife Princess Kate and brother Prince Harry, the prince says that he has been reflecting on parenthood and “how fortunate I am for my young family.”

He adds, “In particular, it is a time to reflect on my responsibility to look after not just the physical health of my two children, but to treat their mental needs as just as important a priority.

“Take a moment to ask their children how they are doing,” he continues. “Take the opportunity to discuss how you are coping with life and fatherhood with your wife, partner or with your friends. And know that if your son or daughter ever needs help, they need their father’s guidance and support just as much as they need their mother’s.

“Along with Catherine and Harry I have been spending a lot of time working on issues around mental health,” William says. “What we have seen time and time again is that so many of the issues that adolescents and adults are dealing with can be linked to unresolved childhood challenges – addicts that were not getting treatment for a serious psychological condition that started in their teens; men who committed suicide who had been depressed since they were in primary school; homeless teenagers who could not confront significant emotional challenges.

“While the circumstances of any one situation are unique, it is clear that many families could have been helped if they had found it easier to talk openly about mental health challenges in the home. And I have been really disheartened to learn that even with all the progress made in recent years, many parents would still be ashamed if their children had a mental health problem.”

Heads Together and Kensington Palace also released a video of William at a special breakfast last week at a branch of Caffe Nero in London. In the video, the prince is seen chatting with other dads and children about their various challenges – and about what makes a parent special.

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Some of the families featured including father and daughter Chris and Harriet Skidmore, 21, who was supported by her dad when she took a year out from university due to extreme Generalised Anxiety Disorder; father Brian Matthews and his 9-year-old son Dante Matthews from north London who have sought support to improve their communication and relationship; and Don Simpson, who developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the military and his adult daughter Carly. Others included David Wright, from west London who sings in Chaps Choir, and his son Sugar-Ray Wright, 11 and Paul and Norman Scates, a father and son from Bournemouth that support each other with their bipolar disorder.

The cross-section of dads-and-kids also had Michael Conneely from Northamptonshire and his 5 year-old triplets, Michael, Ciara and Tadgh, who were born premature; Peter Perren and son James, 6; Scott Casson-Rennie, a father in a same-sex couple and adopted son Jacob Casson-Rennie, 9, and Carl Reid – a mentor who has founded a community sports club from a south London, with the son of a family friend, Brendan Brown, 13, who he has been mentoring and helping with school work and life skills.